Ukraine disbands feared Berkut riot police

A priest prays in front of riot police during clashes with anti-government protesters in Kiev January 25, 2014. (Reuters)

Ukraine’s acting interior minister said on Wednesday he had disbanded the elite Berkut riot police that protesters blamed for most of the deaths in last week’s carnage in Kiev that claimed nearly 100 lives.

“The Berkut is no more,” acting interior minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook account.

“I have signed Decree No. 144, dated Feb. 25, 2014 on the dissolution of the Berkut special police units of civil defense,” he added.

Anti-government protesters have blamed Berkut for violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators protesting authorities’ decision to ditch closer ties with the European Union and turn to Moscow instead.

Last week, President Viktor Yanukovych and protest leaders signed an agreement to end the conflict that left more than 80 people dead in just a few days in Kiev. Shortly after, Yanukovych fled the capital for his powerbase in eastern Ukraine but his exact whereabouts are unknown.

The turmoil has raised concern that Ukraine is facing a split between Russian-speaking regions, which include Yanukovych's home area in the east, and the Ukrainian-speaking west.

Ukraine has been consumed by a three-month political crisis.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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